Nanowrimo: How about editing that novel?

One of the big criticisms that I heard about Nanowrimo last year was that it encouraged people to do mediocre work, which many sent on to agents and editors without the benefit of revision. As someone who greatly enjoys Nanowrimo, I’ll be the first to say that it’s not the program’s fault if some people don’t think before they click ‘send.’

But I have to say, I was always a fan of National Novel Edition Month (Nanoedmo) because it is the natural accompaniment to National Novel Writing month. In fact, we should have three or four Nanoedmos every year, right?

It’s natural that it’s not going to be as popular a program as Nanowrimo. First of all, a lot of the people who write a book in November (myself included) don’t think it’s worth editing by the time they’ve finished it. Second, it’s just not as fun. Instead of spontaneity¬†and a race to reach a word goal, you have to be calculating, harshly critical, and unbiased. But it’s just as important as (or more important than) Nanowrimo.

It makes me kind of disappointed, then, that OLL is opening numerous Camp Nanowrimo programs, which again focus on the writing (this time with a set-it-yourself word goal for less stress). It’s not that the Camp Nano features aren’t cool, or that Camp Nano won’t be fun. In fact, it will probably be nearly as great as Nanowrimo. But all this emphasis to get people excited for Camp Nano is keeping Nanoedmo in obscurity. In fact, OLL doesn’t host or sponsor Nanoedmo. That event is hosted by an outside group of authors who understand that a work of quality is written and rewritten.

The creative process is the place where it all starts, so of course it gets most of the glory. But is it just me, or are the sponsors of Nanowrimo missing out on an important part of their job? All aspects of the process should be made explicit, so that we can stop propagating the myth that a first draft is all you need.

Information on National Novel Editing month can be found here.

2 thoughts on “Nanowrimo: How about editing that novel?

  1. Amira K. says:

    Wow, great post. I totally agree and that’s where I fail to see the benefit of Nanowrimo. It’s just slamming out a novel (and I have to believe that when you pound it out that quickly, it can’t be great) and then emphasizing the “oh man I wrote a novel!” part of the story without emphasizing everything after. It would be like if people celebrated finishing a marathon after mile five.

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    • forgingshadows says:

      Thanks for your comment! I can definitely see where you’re coming from. For me, Nanowrimo is a writing exercise. It’s fun and I don’t expect to get anything out of it except for motivation to continue writing and, of course, the benefit that writing provides in general. Obviously it’s not impossible for a publishable book to arise from Nanowrimo, but I don’t think that the heads over at the Office of Letters and Light give enough attention to the fact that your first draft is a great source of personal pride that should be kept personal until your head has cleared and you can see it more objectively.

      Thanks for dropping by and sharing your opinion!

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